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Partnering together in Cambodia
Bud and Shari (Elton and Sharon) Yordy are currently Program Administrators in Cambodia with MCC. They were service workers in Cambodia from 2002 – 2006, and returned with a new assignment in 2008. Between 2006 and 2008 they were Location Coordinators in Harlan, Kentucky, with MCC Great Lakes’ SWAP program. They are members of Prairieview Mennonite Church in Flanagan, Illinois.
As Program Administrators for MCC Cambodia we find ourselves “tied” to the computers and administrative tasks more than we like! It is a welcome break when our service workers stop in the office to update us about their partner work. MCC Cambodia currently has 16 partners that we work with, either with small grants of money, or with advisor support, or both. Our partners are in the sectors of Education, Peace and Sustainable Livelihoods.
Generally we are armchair travelers as we read the reports from our partner organizations.
The Lay family saved money to start a “wedding clothes rental” business, but they struggled to have enough clothing selection for rentals. They borrowed $250 from the TCFIDA micro-finance savings group to expand their selection. Within one year they had paid off the loan plus a profit of $500, which they re-invested to upgrade again, and to purchase a small motorcycle to help transport their garments. Within three years their business was well established and well known and continues to grow profitably. It certainly helps that over 50% of the population in Cambodia is under the age of 25, so they will have many future clients!
Dara, a graduate of the Peace Bridges Conflict Counseling and Mediation Training, decided to apply the lessons to his local prison work at Kampong Cham prison. The change in behaviors of prisoners so impressed Health Education Officer Sambo, that he requested training for the prison guards as well. He noted, “The way inmates are treated by guards in prison will impact how they live in the community upon release. When injustice prevails in the prison, it does not allow for positive transformation!” Sambo knows that the system not only contains violence but creates it.
Occasionally we get to actually visit with our partners! Recently we traveled to Takeo province to get more information for finishing an irrigation proposal. MCC was requested to rehabilitate six canals that were built over 30 years ago, but were not adequately maintained during the years of civil war and have subsequently deteriorated even more.
To learn about potential impact for this irrigation project, we visited with families who are benefiting from the reconstruction to a canal completed in January 2009. Ton Oun and her husband Koun produced two crops of rice this year instead of one on their small 1/10 hectare rice paddy, and they earned $50 from growing and selling vegetables from other small plots. They also are able to raise chickens and ducks because they have adequate water now. In addition the canal provides fish, frogs, crabs and aquatic plants for their diet. With the water from the canal they are able to add to their food supply, plus earn extra income.
Visits by travel or armchair are both energizing and encouraging as we see changes for Cambodians by our MCC partners!
- Shari Yordy